Kayla Pedersen yearned for a somewhat distraction-free summer and made a huge stride toward that end Thursday by giving a verbal commitment to Stanford to play basketball for the Cardinal beginning with the 2007-2008 season.
Pedersen, who will be a senior at Red Mountain this fall, was the Tribune player of the year this past season after averaging 21 points and 11 rebounds per game while leading the Mountain Lions to a runner-up finish at the 5A Division I state tournament.
‘‘I just felt the time was right to make a choice,’’ Pedersen said. ‘‘I had my choices basically down to Duke, USC and Stanford. No. 1 is the academics at Stanford. And I know a lot of the players coming in there. That made everything fall into place perfectly.’’
Pedersen, who carries a grade point average of 4.37 and is in the top 10 in her class of more than 800 students, decided she wanted to make her commitment early in the summer just after the prep season ended.
‘‘It's a load off my mind,’’ Pedersen said. ‘‘Now I can go out and just worry about playing the rest of the summer and next season.’’
Pedersen's toughest task the last day or so was making half a dozen phone calls or so to tell other suitors she was not coming to their school.
‘‘I had a lot of great opportunities, that made it harder when I actually had to tell them no,’’ Pedersen said.
Pedersen, who has started since her freshman year at Red Mountain, already holds career school records in scoring (1,848), rebounding (994), assists (266), steals (150) and blocked shots (214).
Pedersen is the second player from a Mesa high school to commit to a collegiate future in the Bay area. Mountain View's Harper Kamp committed to Cal in April.